Tech & Work

Tips for looking for a job on the sly

So, if you're not in the position to walk away from your current job while you're looking to go someplace else, you'll want to keep your job search on the lowdown. Here are some tips for doing that.

In some cases, the only thing worse than a job you hate is no job at all. So, if you're not in the position to walk away from your current job while you're looking to go someplace else, you'll want to keep your job search on the down low. Here are some tips for doing that.

Don't tell anyone at your current job that you're looking for a new job.

I know this one is tricky for many people. It's hard to keep something like a job search from coming up in conversation when you're bonding with your co-workers over chicken wings during lunch. Also, if you do land a job and give your notice, the co-workers you feel particularly close with may feel hurt by your keeping a secret from them. But the only way you can keep something entirely quiet is to keep it to yourself.

Use your own voice mail, email, etc., in your job search.

Not only is the use of company resources unethical but their usage may be monitored.

Use non-company contact information

List only home or cell phone numbers on your resume. It would be pretty difficult to field recruiter calls in your office with no one finding out, unless you sit in a windowless office with lead walls. And if you suddenly shut your door after you answer your phone, people will make their own assumptions, with a secretive job search being the best of the assumptions; the worst being that you're having an affair or that your doctor is calling to prescribe a medication you don't want anyone knowing about.

Interview on your own time

I don't know about you, but if I dress up at my office, about 30 people will ask if me if I have a job interview. It's tempting to answer, "No, I'm attending a funeral but thanks for making light of it," just to see them squirm. But the fact is interviewing during regular business hours is kind of obvious, even if you think you're being James Bond cool. And unless you use your lunch hour to do it, it's also kind of unethical.

If you're interviewing at a lot of places, try to schedule them all within the same day and take a personal day from work. If the interview is only available during work hours, try to schedule it near the end of the day and build in some extra time to go home and change first.

Guard your privacy online

Most online job search engines will allow you to block certain companies from seeing your information. Take advantage of this and block your current company. Also, you should use your social networking tools discreetly. Do send private emails to those on your LinkedIn contact lists but don't post daily Facebook updates on your attempts to flee the living hell of a job your currently have.

Keep it confidential

Tell the companies you're interviewing with that your job search is confidential. Most interviewers will understand that fact perfectly.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

51 comments
jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

I work in a business casual office and so it's not unusual to wear a nice shirt and nice pair of dress slacks. However at my old job before I started interviewing I'd just randomly wear dress clothes to work (no tie). So people were used to seeing it. When I started interviewing, the only difference was that I had the tie and jacket in the car and my lunches were longer than usual...*cough*

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Glad I live under one of those repressive socialist regimes. If I'm looking for another job, rule one is not to leave myself open to a charge of abusing my current employer. It's their safest route to getting rid of me before I've succeeded...... I might not announce it, but I don't hide it.

ScottTaylorMCPD
ScottTaylorMCPD

The real problem is that, unfortunately, all too many bosses see and treat their valuable employees as though they were children. This includes instituting frankly paranoid policies such as web filters and phone monitoring. The bottom line should be whether or not the employee is making a positive contribution to the goals of the company. An enlightened boss will actually encourage their employees to be actively aware of the larger industry context. If employees are treated like adults, then the company won't have to worry about them seeking greener pastures.

sbrinker
sbrinker

I just finished conducting a job search through a staffing firm that resulted in a job offered and accepted yesterday. While I agree with the "different strokes for different folks" adage, there is one important universal truth. Your situation at any given moment is the sum total of your actions toward and reactions to the world around you. Over the past five years with my current employer, there have been times that I absolutely hated my job, hated the decisions that were made, and hated the seeming disregard for my time. But over those five years I worked hard to keep the communication channel open to my superiors so that constructive and meaningful dialogue could still happen. That paid off during my job search because I could talk with my boss, and let him know how things were going without much fear of a pre-emptive firing. I leave this employer with my conscience clear, and no bridges burned in a job market I may need to use again over the next three decades.

bryantc
bryantc

A previous company used the fact that a guy was looking for a job to include him in the planned layoffs. His position was very hard to replace but the feeling of the top guy was if he was looking then he did not need to be there. After the guy was let go someone found out that he had only started looking in case he was laid off! We lost a very good person because the top guy's feelings were hurt.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

FWIW, I happen to know that certain people within certain companies know all about the blocking. And about Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And do some amount of anonymous monitoring. That is, using IPs not associated with the company, made up identities, etc. And I'm not talking about just the company for whom I work. Although I know at least one of the senior management types in that company does at least somewhat "track" such things in the case of certain, select employees. I found that out a couple or 3 years ago. A slow time at work for us. I and some others were given temporary layoffs. Due to lack of adequate work and business. I was personally told that in my case it was definitely temporary, and expected to last no more than 3 months. Likely only two. I was even told to keep my company keys, door access card, company vehicle, company owned tools (laptop, etc). Now I wasn't particularly upset. Okay, it was a PIA. Unemployment doesn't pay as well as my regular rates. Sitting around that long is BORING. I like to be busy and doing stuff. Fishing is not nearly as interesting if you can do it all the time, any time you want. And I had all the long list of Honey-Do's done in 2 weeks. Had caught up on all my reading. Don't really watch TV or movies very much. Etc. So I decided, "What the heck?". Wouldn't hurt anything to start checking out possible alternatives and offers. I liked working for the folks I'd been working for, a lot. But who knows what I might find if I looked around a bit? Did I mention I was ... BORED? LOL ... so I put out some feelers and inquiries. Let it be known I was looking, slapped up a resume or two here and there. Within a week I got a call from work asking me to come back. Sat with the fellow I mentioned above. He didn't explain much except to say he knew I was looking. I just accepted that as stated and asked nothing of the details. Pretty much figured that anything put on the Internet wasn't really secret or secure anyway. Anyway, he simply asked if I wanted to come back to work for them, sooner than planned. Cautioned that things were still slow so I might have short workweeks. But that they'd do as best they could. Could pretty much guarantee 3 full days, anyway. Which would be about the same as what I was getting on unemployment. How about it? I took the offer. Some work being better than no work, in my view. Besides I liked my job assignment and the company. Later learned that the same fellow recalled another guy, who has the equivalent of the same job I do. Who had also put out some feelers. And also learned the same fellow knew of 2 others looking around, but he did not recall them nor make them an offer to return to work sooner than originally planned. This guy isn't the only one I know of to employ such tactics. Another company, whose folks I work with routinely, had someone doing similar. One of the employees had posted resumes and made it known he was looking. Evidently he thought no one was the wiser. He'd not said anything to his work mates, management, etc. But he might as well have. Turns out that almost as soon as he put out the fact he was looking on the Internet, someone within the company for whom he worked knew about it. And that person told someone else, and pretty soon EVERYONE knew. The guy had kept his name and other personal info secret in his postings. But if one knew very much about him, his education, his work history, etc it was pretty much unmistakeably him. He wasn't fired. But he was relieved of supervisory and management duties and assigned as a normal Worker Bee with limited authority, responsibilities, etc. He was no longer trusted. Apparently he'd also made some remarks online here and there about how much he disliked where he currently worked, how he thought they were incompetent idiots, etc. In so many words, phrased somewhat more PC, but the meaning was the same. Not a good plan. And I've known about maybe another couple similar situations that occurred within other companies.

melbert09
melbert09

When I have been in the position to hire people, I have always made it a point of knowing what the current situation of the person I am interviewing is. If they are currently employed, I will usually make time at about 6 or 6:30 to interview and will let them know that they can come in as they normally dress with their current job (within reason). If the place is a very formal place I can inform them of the dress code during the interview. The reason I do this is that I know what it is like to look for a job while you have one. I also know from experience that I may not accept the applicant and would not want them to risk their current job by having an interview with me. I also know that the interview process is a two Way Street, so working a little with someone can go a long way in the impression they get of the organization and wanting to work at my company. Bottom line is that these are things that I would have liked to have happened when I was interviewing with companies. Instead of having interviews at 10am and taking half the day off.

daveoffive
daveoffive

Recently, I had a contractor call me at the office. I asked her if I had posted my phone number on my resume. She said "No". It was a fustrating situation. How would you handle it.

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